A Press Statement by KARAPATAN on the 47th anniversary of martial law
September 20, 2019
47 years ago, darkness reigned, but it did not prevail against the force of a united people.
Darkness may reign now, but it will be defied.
47 years ago, the Filipino people went through one of the darkest and bloodiest periods in our nation’s history. With the declaration of martial law on September 21, 1972, the late Ferdinand Marcos unleashed the horrors of a brutal fascist dictatorship: civil liberties and people’s rights were brazenly attacked and violated; democratic institutions were dismantled in consolidating authoritarian rule; the free press was shut down; millions were plundered from the country’s coffers to fatten the pockets of the Marcoses and their corrupt cronies as the nation suffered under extreme poverty; and hundreds of political opponents and critics along with thousands of activists, organizers, and unionists were illegally abducted and detained, tortured, killed or forcibly disappeared – some of whom are still missing to this day.
Today, September 20, on the eve of the 47th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, Karapatan joins the Filipino people in remembering all the victims and martyrs of the Marcos dictatorship. We remember their lives, we remember their sacrifices, and we remember their struggle for democracy, freedom, and justice – culminating in the toppling of the Marcos regime by a united Filipino people against tyranny and dictatorship. However, the fight for a just and humane society is far from over.
Today, we are confronted yet again with the horrors and brutalities of Marcos’ martial law, as we see a creeping dictatorship taking form, helmed by dictator wannabe Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte is an altogether different monster. He has coddled the Marcoses and enabled them to shamelessly return to power and escape accountability, with Imee Marcos even securing a seat in the Senate while Imelda Marcos was able to walk free despite being convicted of 7 counts of graft. Duterte, like a true Marcos fanboy, is now eagerly following the Marcosian playbook of repression and oppression. We are once again promised a golden age, no doubt marked by a ballooning debt and worsening economic crisis.
Martial law and de facto martial law have been put in place. Martial law in Mindanao has been repeatedly extended without basis, and has enabled State forces to commit more atrocities with astounding impunity. The Lumad and Moro people have been subjected to killings and intensified militarization, justified by the military through scare tactics and feeding public paranoia. Transparency is not the priority of fascist regimes. This same arrangement, sans the formal declaration, is also creating havoc in the regions of Negros, Samar, and Bicol under Memorandum Order No. 32. Whatever the name, the impact of formal and de factor martial law remains salient – unhampered human rights violations.
Alongside this, the Duterte regime is preparing a long list of repressive policies. Under Executive Order No. 70, coupled with efforts to revive the Anti-Subversion Law, mandatory Reserve Officers Training Course (ROTC), death penalty, and plans to amend the Human Security Act, the fascist Duterte regime is parroting the Marcosian tactic of propping up a McCarythite communist hysteria to justify its draconian measures and crackdown on opponents and critics. To the greedy who want to tighten their grip on power, every resistance is akin to sedition and all – including church leaders and workers, journalists, youth activists, and human rights defenders – are tagged as terrorists.
This is all under the framework of Oplan Kapanatagan. The bloodbath happening in all regions of the country are systematic and orchestrated attacks. This “whole-of-nation” approach seeks to penetrate the core of government, to blur civilian and military functions, to remove civilian and combatant distinctions.
Despite these draconian measures, the people, who have been long suffering under extreme poverty, joblessness, and landlessness only find more reason to fight and resist with the exposition of the regime’s corruption and brazen abuse of power – from the freeing of big-time criminals convicted of heinous and drug-related charges to the increase in pork barrel funds of Duterte’s allies in Congress, as well as his own pork and P2.5 billion worth of confidential intelligence funds. Moreover, in the face of anti-poor economic policies, Duterte’s puppetry and surrender of national sovereignty to the interests of China and the United States, and the ballooning infrastructure debt with his billions worth of loans from China, plunges the country deeper and deeper into an economic crisis. This regime is a sham, a sell-out, and a failure.
The people are made to suffer for speaking out. As the people grow more and more disgruntled with the fascist regime every day, we are moving closer to the tipping point.
We have been here before, and we are treading dark times once again, with our hard-won freedom under threat of being taken away from us. In these trying times, we are once again called to stand united in resisting the new dictatorship and its attacks on people’s rights. On September 20, on the eve of the 47th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, we return to the streets with our clenched fists raised in defiance. We march as one to Luneta once more, united in the call to demand accountability and justice from the plunder and atrocities of the Marcoses and Duterte, and to resist the darkness of tyranny and dictatorship under Duterte’s de facto martial rule.
Darkness may reign now, but it will never prevail against the force of a united people.